The identity of the Yellowstone hiker found dead Friday, August 7 has been released.
63-year old Lance Crosby, a resident of Billings, MT was found dead on the Elephant Back Loop Trail near Lake Village, the apparent victim of a bear encounter. Crosby was a long-term seasonal employee in Yellowstone National Park, working for Medcor, which operates three urgent care clinics in the Park. This was his fifth season working and living in Yellowstone. He has been described as “an experience hiker.”
An investigation is ongoing, but officials have concluded he was attacked by a grizzly bear. Crosby’s body was found partially consumed and cached, with defensive wounds on the forearms, although investigators have not determined the exact cause of death. Officials have scheduled a forensic autopsy for Crosby.
Rangers have determined a female grizzly bear is likely responsible, based on the presence of partial tracks, which also indicated the sow was accompanied by a cub. Park biologists have captured a female grizzly bear, after setting up traps Friday evening. After taking scat samples, paw measurements, and other DNA evidence from the bear, biologists will compare them to the tracks on scene as well as other evidence gathered from around Crosby’s body.
No other bears have been captured as of yet.
If the captured bear is identified as complicit in Crosby’s death, it will be euthanized.
“The decision to euthanize a bear is one that we do not take lightly. As park managers, we are constantly working to strike a balance between the preservation of park resources and the safety of our park visitors and employees,” said Dan Wenk, superintendent of Yellowstone National Park in a Yellowstone National Park Service press release.
Wenk added: “Our decision is based on the totality of the circumstances in this unfortunate event. Yellowstone has had a grizzly bear management program since 1983. The primary goals of this program are to minimize bear-human interactions, prevent human-caused displacement of bears from prime food sources, and to decrease the risk of bear-caused human injuries.”
Elephant Back Loop Trail, along with Natural Bridge Trail and the immediate area are closed for the time being. In the meantime, all hikers in Yellowstone National Park should take extra care when hiking through the backcountry by traveling in groups, making noise, and carrying bear spray.
UPDATE: According to Yellowstone spokesperson Julena Campbell, speaking to the Washington Post, officials have captured a bear cub who may be related to the grizzly sow currently in custody.